The footsteps ran quickly down the stairs as I came to consciousness from the restless dreams I was having. It was the normal 3:30 wakeup, the standard time when our child gets up in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep. I’ve been so tired the past week or so that I’ve slept through several of these late night interludes so I made sure to get up in the attempt to let Kay get some additional sleep.
Yesterday my baby turned 10. Double digits they call it. It’s half way to adulthood; three years until formally being known as an adolescent. Wasn’t she just born yesterday? Wasn’t it only a year ago that we were walking her into her school for the first day of kindergarten with the mix of dread and anticipation that comes with a new stage in life? Can I really be getting this old, firmly located in middle age even though I still think I’m closed to 25 than 45?
Just wait emerging youth, for these days come quickly. You live out the passions of your twenties and thirties only to wake up one night and realize that the illusions of youth have gone. The older you get, the less you seem to know. The aches and pains don’t go away as quickly. Somehow things that were burning issues of adulthood don’t seem as important. Yes, there are passions and convictions, but they don’t seem as pressing. You’ve learned to recognize your failings and given up the notion that with enough power you can will them out of existence. You are who you are. So be it.
And then there are the kids, the legacy that continues on after we are gone. It’s amazing that the species has survived sometimes, for if we are honest, we all make up parenting as we go along. Dr. Spock, “What To Expect,” and “The Girlfriends Guide” tries to prepare you, but then you discover that these little balls of flesh and blood have minds and wills of their own. You start out thinking that nurture is a big deal, only to wake up one morning asking “where in the hell did this person come from?” You know that you are screwing up as your idealistic convictions on child rearing fly out the window with the reality of screaming fits and arguments over getting ready in the morning, but there doesn’t seem much that you can do about it. You aren’t in control, you simply point in a particular direction and hope that the car gets there over the oil slick road that is our lives.
Crap. This sounds pretty melancholy for an early morning. Maybe it’s because my glasses are downstairs and I have to squint to see the ten point type on my screen. That should lead me into reflections on the limitations of the body — the eyes going, the body sagging, yada, yada, yada.
Yet, hope continues on. Little points of light emerge. Every time I think that the kids are possessed by Prince of Darkness and bent on destroying one another as fast as possible, a light shines forth as the ten year old takes the hand of the five year old and walks her down the aisle of the church with a sense of love and tenderness that she would be horrified to admit is a part of her life. The good moments are short — it’s easy to miss them. They come in the five minute stretch around the dinner table telling jokes. They come in the laying on the sofa with two girls and a dog piled on your stomach as you watch foolish twenty somethings convinced of their invincibility eat things that that frankly should never pass the lips on TV. They come, although sometimes I convince myself that they don’t.
It’s a song that doesn’t ever seem to resolve. The chorus goes on and on. The band is vamping in the background and I’m trying to think of the next note to play. It may be flat or sharp (in fact, it probably will be) but it’s all music just the same.